Up close and personal with Close Talker

Kevin Skrepnek, Contributor Ω

According to BC Hydro, the Aug. 24 blackout in downtown Kamloops was an unplanned power outage. However, it couldn’t have been orchestrated better for Saskatoon-based indie folk rockers Close Talker and their set at The Art We Are on Victoria Street.

Close Talker plays an intimate set at The Art We Are. Kevin Skrepnek/The Omega

Close Talker plays an intimate set at The Art We Are. Kevin Skrepnek/The Omega

The prairie foursome consisting of Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, Chris Morien and Jerms Olson were in Kamloops as part of the B.C. leg of their Western Canadian tour, which culminated with a headline performance at the Ponderosa Music Festival in Rock Creek at the end of August.

The show was already off to a cozy and intimate start with the band half-way in to their first song of the night, CBC Radio 3 pleaser “The West Was Won,” when the lights flickered and abruptly plunged the venue, along with the rest of downtown Kamloops, into darkness.

Unfazed, the band continued the show – although not before borrowing an extra acoustic guitar, courtesy of opening act Joe’s Orbit of Vancouver. “We aren’t typically an acoustic band,” quipped Kopperud, as the band retooled their instruments for an improvised unplugged set.

Now basked in candlelight, the room provided the perfect ambiance for the rest of the evening as the group worked their way through an hour or so of songs, mostly from their debut album, Timbers.

Their range was further showcased with “Flux,” a spacey melody punctuated with thunder drums and atmospheric vocals. It was a piece that has no doubt leant itself to the favourable comparisons being made to Kelowna alt rockers (and Peak Performance Project alumni) We Are The City.

Candlelight. Kevin Skrepnek/The Omega

Close Talker’s set turned acoustic-by-candlelight at The Art We Are. Kevin Skrepnek/The Omega

As Courtney Dickson noted in August’s edition of The Omega, the band has only precious weeks wedged between university semesters to gather, record, and rehearse. Despite the impromptu nature of the set, it was an incredibly tight performance overall – surprisingly polished for a group that only formed last year. This sparse time spent together is not telegraphed in their live act. They are comfortable, charming and capable live performers.

The quality of the show was evident in the fact that despite the power outage, not a single person left The Art We Are last Saturday until the last song was done – in fact, the crowd had grown as interested passersby were lured in as Close Talker’s harmonies spilled out onto Victoria Street.

The evening made for a one-of-a-kind performance from a band that won’t likely be playing in such intimate venues for much longer. Close Talker is worth the price of admission and more – whether the lights are on or not.